How did Atriox reach the ark?

I can’t recall if this is ever explained unless I missed it in HW2 or one of the novels; and the halopedia page just states “he arrived”.

Wouldn’t he have to have found a portal of some kind since it’s so far out?

He probably walked there.

I think he had a ship

It is explained in the novel “Halo: Shadows of Reach”. He can arrive to and from the place via a portal.

But they had to dig up the portal; unless there was another portal not on reach he used?

I just reread your title; I thought you were talking about the portal from the Ark to Reach, that’s my mistake. Now that I know what you mean, no, I don’t think it is explicitly stated how Atriox finds the Ark. All we can do is speculate. My guess is that he arrived via a Forerunner slipspace portal like the UNSC Spirit of Fire did.

I think it’s stated that he somehow obtained the coordinates for the Ark, took his ship Enduring Conviction and the majority of his forces, and simply made a Slipspace jump to get there. It took the Banished approximately 8 months to reach the Ark, however. The real mystery is how the Spirit of Fire got there.

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I think with the Spirit of Fire the safest bet is on Mendicant Bias being the one who created the portal that led them there. As for how he’d know where SoF was I couldn’t say, but that he was awake, and aware in Halo 3 would imply his fragment on the Ark is active.
I don’t believe we’re aware of any other likely source, unless Cortana did so, to prevent the Banished from discovering what led them to Zeta Halo.